Election campaigns’ emerging contours …
The contours of the forthcoming campaign are emerging from the fog. While there are no manifestos as of yet, there are PR ‘news’ of what the various leaders did say or “will say”. You won’t be surprised to hear that officially Brexit is of no concern. According to those who want to rule us this election will be about ‘domestic issues’.
A quick harvest of the headlines shows that Johnson will push ‘green’ policies’ after Brexit’ (here, paywalled here and here), ‘tackling climate change’ provided voters don’t let a Corbyn-Sturgeon government in. Corbyn meanwhile promises to ‘save the NHS’ by spending £6billion more on it than the dastardly Tories – by ‘taxing the rich’ (here). And then there was this:
“[Corbyn] today joked with rowdy photographers that ‘under Socialism you will all cooperate’ as he hit the campaign trail in Blackpool. The Labour leader issued the message as the media jostled for position during a picture opportunity in the seaside resort. […] Despite the light-hearted nature of the jibe, Mr Corbyn was branded ‘sinister’ on social media, with some users suggesting it showed how everyone will have to ‘obey the dear leader’ if Labour wins power in the election.” (link)
It’s good to know that there are at least a few social-media-warriors who seem to have an inkling of what socialism will mean in practice – and it isn’t ‘saving the NHS by taxing the rich’.
Tomorrow is the last day for candidates to hand in their paperwork. It has to be at the local councils by 4pm. In an astonishing piece of over-reach Arron Banks (now a Tory) reportedly told Nigel Farage that he has ‘48 hours to save Brexit’ by withdrawing candidates from Labour-held marginals the Tories say they have to win – see this headline. The broadsheets who haven’t touched Banks with a bargepole have of course picked it up as well – paywalled here, and here’s a quote from the DT with a little sting in the tail:
“Nigel Farage was warned he has “48 hours to save Brexit” as a major donor to the Brexit Party urged him to stand down another 150 candidates in Conservative target seats. Arron Banks told the Telegraph that the Brexit Party leader had to “smash Labour in 40 or so seats where the Tories are nowhere”. […] On Tuesday the Conservatives rebuffed requests by intermediaries acting on behalf of Mr Farage to swap weaker Tory candidates into seats that the party has a realistic chance of winning.” (paywalled link)
Take note: it’s a blatant demand for TBP to support the Tories who won’t even contemplate a Brexit Alliance because for them this election is not about Brexit, it’s about retaining their power.
Perhaps Johnson and his advisers believe they are riding high given the confusing news coming from the LibDems where the candidate poised to take on Johnson in his constituency is standing down (here) while another stands down to give Labour a ‘free run’ (here). The call by David Gauke, arch remained and former Tory Rebel’, to support the Lib-Dems while standing as Independent in his former constituency against his own party also seems negligible:
“The former justice secretary told The Times it would be “no bad thing” if “traditional, long-standing” Tory backers lent their votes to the Liberal Democrats on December 12, but said he had the best chance of denying the Conservatives a victory in his constituency of South West Hertfordshire. […] Mr Gauke backed the Lib Dems elsewhere but could face a challenge from them in the constituency where, as a Tory, he won in 2017 with a majority of 19,550 and 57.9 per cent of the vote.” (link, paywalled)
Perhaps he’ll get his just deserts should a LibDem beat him. All is not well in the Labour Party either. There’s this report which shows that Corbyn doesn’t have his troops under control:
“Corbyn is facing a mounting Brexit rebellion today with more than 100 prospective Labour MPs pledging to back Remain if there is a second referendum even if the party decides to back Leave. The 112 names include dozens who have already been MPs, including ex-ministers Margaret Beckett, Maria Eagle and Ben Bradshaw, plus recent Speaker candidate Chris Bryant. […] Organised by grassroots group Remain Labour, [the pledge] states: ‘Labour is committed to a confirmatory referendum, to give you a final say on Brexit. If elected as your Labour MP, I pledge to campaign to Remain in the EU.’ This could put them on a collision path with party leader Jeremy Corbyn.” (link)
Labour meanwhile has only superficially taken notice of TBP’s retreat from Tory constituencies, but their strategists may well think they can bludgeon TBP in the coming weeks while keeping their own candidates in check, as Asa Bennett in the DT suggests:
“The Brexit Party’s sliding poll rating, with it barely breaking 10 per cent these days, forced Mr Farage to “put country before party” by pulling his troops out of direct confrontation with the Tories. For now, he hopes to save face by coming after Labour and winning a few seats. But his potential to do so may have been blunted by allowing Jeremy Corbyn to dismiss Brexit Party candidates as mere Turquoise Tories. […] But by backing down from fighting the Tories, Mr Farage may have given the Labour leader the defence he needs to help keep his remaining Brexit Party candidates at bay.” (paywalled link)
In summary, there’s Tory hybris: they believe Brexit is done and they’re better off wooing voters as per usual. Labour and LibDems are unclear if they can or ought to commit to a ‘Remain’ Pact while Corbyn campaigns on socialist, ahem: domestic issues. They all give only lip-service to Brexit.
We, the voters, are just pawns: numbers in the statistics of the establishment parties’ election strategists. They think that we can easily be manipulated according to ancient campaign rules: shout and promise to give them what they want while brushing their real concerns under the carpet. Making Brexit a non-issue is the theme.
For those strategists the few ‘rebels’, be they Remain MPs in Labour with their ‘Remain Pledge’, be they the even fewer LibDems going for a local, unilateral ‘Remain Alliance’, are apparently negligible. Even less interesting for those strategists are the noises from Tory arch remainers who are going to stand as Independents.
Should things go badly they already have their ready-made scape goat: TBP. Leave voters who were supporting them? Where can they go except back to LibLabCon! Stay at home, as one of TBP’s MEPs wailed yesterday? Don’t they want to save the NHS or ‘tackle’ climate change? The historian Robert Tombs warns them in the DT:
“Many politicians and commentators are trying to minimise the importance of next month’s vote, claiming that it is about all sorts of other things than Brexit, supposedly more important to “ordinary people”. I doubt most of the electorate will be convinced. The issue that will decide the outcome is Brexit, and Brexit will show whether we are a true or a sham democracy.” (paywalled link)
Just so! We’ll give that important article the ‘FROM BEHIND THE PAYWALL” treatment later this morning. Meanwhile, the establishment – parties and MSM – prepare to fight this GE as they’ve always done, by going for the predictable ‘domestic’ issues, trying to dazzle us with huge amounts of bovine excrement.
They assume that we’re so tired that we’ll just forget about our country’s biggest democratic decision. After all, there’ll be either LINO or there’ll be a 2nd referendum – what more could we possibly want when the NHS needs saving and when the ‘climate crisis’ needs tackling!
The establishment parties have torn up the contract between us voters and themselves. It can no longer be ‘business as usual’. Frightening us with a hung parliament and a Corbyn-Sturgeon government won’t work. Surely the mighty mind of a JRM can tie up such hung parliament in knots! Meanwhile, they all get what they really really want: no Brexit.
Let’s not reward them. Let’s not honour them with our votes. Let’s use these next four weeks to make sure they know what’s coming, that ‘business as usual’ won’t happen, that we can and will ‘split the Tory vote’ all by ourselves, even if it means voting for the Monster Raving Loony Party where there’s no firm Brexit candidate.